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The Global Spine Care Initiative: a summary of the global burden of low back and neck pain studies

Abstract

Purpose

This article summarizes relevant findings related to low back and neck pain from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) reports for the purpose of informing the Global Spine Care Initiative.

Methods

We reviewed and summarized back and neck pain burden data from two studies that were published in Lancet in 2016, namely: “Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015” and “Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 315 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE), 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.”

Results

In 2015, low back and neck pain were ranked the fourth leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) globally just after ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lower respiratory infection {low back and neck pain DALYs [thousands]: 94 941.5 [95% uncertainty interval (UI) 67 745.5–128 118.6]}. In 2015, over half a billion people worldwide had low back pain and more than a third of a billion had neck pain of more than 3 months duration. Low back and neck pain are the leading causes of years lived with disability in most countries and age groups.

Conclusion

Low back and neck pain prevalence and disability have increased markedly over the past 25 years and will likely increase further with population aging. Spinal disorders should be prioritized for research funding given the huge and growing global burden.

Graphical abstract

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Author information

Correspondence to Eric L. Hurwitz.

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Funding

The Global Spine Care Initiative and this study were funded by grants from the Skoll Foundation and NCMIC Foundation. World Spine Care provided financial management for this project. The funders had no role in study design, analysis, or preparation of this paper.

Conflicts of interest

EH declares he is a consultant for: RAND Corporation; EBSCO Information Services; Southern California University of Health Sciences; Western University of Health Sciences. Data and Safety Monitoring Committee Chair, Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research. Research Committee Co-chair, World Spine Care. KR declares funding to UOIT from Skoll Foundation, NCMIC Foundation through World Spine Care. HY declares funding to UOIT from Skoll Foundation, NCMIC Foundation through World Spine Care. PC is funded by a Canada Research Chair in Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and declares funding to UOIT from Skoll Foundation, NCMIC Foundation through World Spine Care. Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada. Research Chair Ontario Ministry of Finance. Financial Services Commission of Ontario. Ontario Trillium Foundation, ELIB Mitac. Fond de Recherche and Sante du Quebec. SH declares funding to UOIT from Skoll Foundation, NCMIC Foundation through World Spine Care. Clinical Policy Advisory Board and stockholder, Palladian Health. Advisory Board, SpineHealth.com. Book Royalties, McGraw Hill. Travel expense reimbursement—CMCC Board.

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Cite this article

Hurwitz, E.L., Randhawa, K., Yu, H. et al. The Global Spine Care Initiative: a summary of the global burden of low back and neck pain studies. Eur Spine J 27, 796–801 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-017-5432-9

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Keywords

  • Spine
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Global burden of disease